Not Knowing and the Problematics of Naming Eating Disorders: OSFED/EDNOS/TCA-NS and Annie Ernaux’s Mémoire de fille (2016)

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Mémoire de fille (2016) [A Girl’s Story (2020)] describes acting on a fifty-years-repressed imperative to write about Annie Ernaux’s first traumatic sexual encounters and their ramifications, including disordered eating, initially misnamed pica, then, later, bulimia. Instead, the behaviours described correspond to problematic medical categorizations for ‘a-typical’ heterogeneous eating disorders, which albeit little known, account for up to 50 per cent of diagnoses and are the most prevalent (including ‘other specified feeding and eating disorder’ (OSFED); ‘eating disorder not otherwise specified’ (EDNOS); and ‘troubles des comportements/conduites alimentaires, non spécifiés/non spécifiques’ (TCA-NS)). The examination of Ernaux’s exploration of not knowing; her bringing into question of the possibilities of (self-)knowledge and of articulating traumatic experiences; and her emphasis on disordered eating and its naming elucidates how discourses of knowledge (patriarchal, medical, religious, philosophical, and consumerist) control knowledge about, and may contribute to, disordered eating. The potential is raised of the contribution of the literary to interdisciplinary debates challenging the not knowing of eating disorders (particularly OSFED/EDNOS/TCA-NS).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273–298
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Romance Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • anorexia
  • bulimia
  • TCA-NS
  • eating disorders
  • DSM-5

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